Ain’t Nothing' But…W1
This beat-up atmospheric interpretation of a New Orleans juke joint has a solid fan-base which, given its dimensions, means you’ll likely queue and once inside, be getting up close and personal with complete strangers. No matter; the vibe is buzzy and; friendly as each night of the week the room reverberates to a roster of house bands covering anything from Chicago blues, West Coast swing, Hendrix-style guitars and voodoo vocalists that sound like they’ve been gargling with Jim Beam and razor blades . Obviously, you’ll order rye or Bourbon with beer backs: a G andT is for limey wimps whose definition of the Blues goes no further than Duncan James, Anthony Costa et co. Food-wise, expect jambalaya, crawfish pie, fillet gumbo -as the song goes - that’s to say Southern cooking to suit any a-Cajun.
The 606 Club SW10
Dubbed ‘London’s best music venue’ by pint-sized pianist, Jamie Cullum, no less, this casual jazz-orientated joint promises smoochy sax and horny brass sections, with up to ten live bands and combos featured each week. Don’t be surprised to see off-duty stars drop in for an impromptu jam. Booking at weekends is invariably essential; this warm, buzzy, intimate Chelsea cellar is a squeeze, albeit a comfortable (air-conditioned) one. Membership makes sense at £95 pa but the room is also accessible to non-members who are not permitted to order from the bar unless dining. Allow £50 a head for three courses with entry-level wine from a list of two dozen that includes French interest at £30.Organic beer and imported lagers are also served. A la carte dishes might typically include chorizo with feta, fresh anchovy crostini, roast rump of lamb & all the trimmings, salmon terriyaki, vegetarian linguine, lemon tart and crème brulée. A Sunday lunch sitting is set to the stirring sounds of deep soul and gospel voices.
Downstairs’ (a cocktail lounge-cum-casual restaurant below) have attracted the likes of Dame Cleo Laine and British pianist/composer Django Bates to deeply hip Dalston. Connections with the jazz scenes in New York and elsewhere ensure that a healthy mix of visiting artistes appears alongside impressive local heroes on nightly display. Daytime eats and a range of bargain cocktails are served downstairs, along with wines (from £12) and beers. The main venue – modernist, minimalist and thankfully air-conditioned – overlooks a square where alfresco performances are occasionally scheduled.